Sunday October 4, 2020

Heart of Gold

It's been in the works for a while, and with the first single now out in the wild, it really feels that TV Freaks have something special on deck for us with their upcoming LP People. You can stream their opening salvo, the familiarly-named "Heart of Gold," at Bandcamp now. It's the first preview of the 10 track record, due October 30 from Schizophrenic Records. With a four and a half minute runtime and an extended instrumental outro, the track seems like new territory for a band that's so often characterized by whip-fast bursts of sneering garage punk. Is this just a curious anomaly, or are TV Freaks set to follow Fucked Up on out on some Hawkwind-inspired space adventure? We'll find out at the end of the month.

People lands as the Hamilton quartet's fourth full-length. They tracked the instrumentals live-off-the-floor over a weekend in May of 2018. The group recorded vocals and additional overdubs throughout 2019 at Boxcar Sound with Sean Pearson behind the boards. Pearson also mixed the record, with the Eddy Current Suppression Ring's Mikey Young mastering. 50 copies of the LP with alternate cover art will be available through the soon-to-be-relocated Hamilton punk mecca Hammer City Records upon release.

Earlier this year, TV Freaks released Scraps Vol. 1, a collection of rarities, b-sides, and demo recordings. That 13-song set notably included their cover of Simply Saucer's "Illegal Bodies," featuring Edgar Breau of the cult proto-punk act. Furthermore, this year saw a new solo record from Freaks frontman Sweet Dave O'Connor. His Pink Dreams LP arrived on Yeah Right in March.

TV Freaks features O'Connor backed by guitarist TJ Charlton, bassist Vee Bell, and drummer Nathan Burger. People follows-up 2015's Deranged-released Bad Luck Charms.

Listen: TV Freaks - "Heart of Gold" @ Bandcamp

While we're focused on the Hammer, take note that the proto-punk revivalists Flesh Rag have a new rarities set of their own online. Shit City - Demos and Unreleased unearths a gritty assortment of unreleased material, including a pair of tracks later re-recorded for 2018's Inside Your Mind. The six-song collection also features some pre-pandemic demos and a cover of Hawkwind's 1971 classic "Silver Machine."

Flesh Rag plays a trio featuring guitarist/vocalist Matt Ellis, bassist Eric Felgner, and the above-mentioned TV Freaks drummer Nathan Burger. Throughout the spring and summer lockdown, Ellis released four home-recorded EPs of unabashed Ramones-worship (High Risk Assurance in April, Stays Home in May, Halfway to Insanity in June, and wrapping July with Never Was, Is And Never Shall Be).

Listen: Flesh Rag - Shit City @ Bandcamp

Kyle Knapp of the Slint-influenced art-punk unit Deliluh has a new side-project with Andrew Matthews of the discordant post-punk group WHIMM. The duo, who've collaborated on each other's work with regularity throughout the years, are recording under the name Dime Lifters. The new venture finds the Toronto musicians working remotely, having (somehow) relocated to Marseille, France during the COVID lockdown. The first fruits of the artistic union are "Wedding" and "Clairette," a pair of instrumental tracks boasting a classic cinematic feel. The single arrives from the Unheard of Hope label.

Throughout October, all profits from the songs benefit the CALEM Institute (a shelter in Marseille supporting LGBT asylum seekers and refugees) and Anduhyaun Inc. (a charity providing safe spaces and resources for Indigenous women and children in Toronto).

Deliluh released Beneath the Floors and Oath of Intent last year. WHIMM last issued the Not My Kind EP in early 2018.

Listen: Dime Lifters - "Wedding" / "Clairette" @ Bandcamp

It's been a few years since Jon Creeden and The Flying Hellfish had something new for us, but the gruff-yet-heartfelt Ottawa punk combo is back with a new EP titled Parti. The set features five anthemic new songs recorded with Ryan Cox in Toronto, plus a live rendition of Creeden's 2013-era track "The Captain."

This version of the Hellfish featured vocalist/guitarist Jon Creeden backed by bassist Kiearn O'Dea, guitarists Cory Levesque and Bill Morton, and drummer Anthony Cardozo. The set follows 2018's LP Stall.

Listen: Jon Creeden & The Flying Hellfish - Parti @ Bandcamp

The new record is out from Montreal's delightfully off-kilter synth-pop unit Night Lunch. Wall of Love arrived this week from Joe Chamandy's Celluloid Lunch Records. The band's last preview of the record before it landed featured the album-opening "Your Body," a theatric reimagining of a song first recorded for the Lukie Lovechild's low-fi group Baked Goods back in 2012. The track followed the haunting first single "Motorhome," which hasn't been out of my head for weeks.

Featuring members of Baked Goods and The Marlees, Night Lunch recorded primarily at The Bottle Garden with Peter Woodford (Tough Age, Deliluh, Bleu Nuit) on this release. They tracked a few additional songs with Peter Bowering at MOD Studio as well.

Night Lunch features guitarist/vocalist Lukie Lovechild, bassist/vocalist Marlee Kay, keyboardist Wesley Dunphy, and drummer Sailor.

Listen: Night Lunch - "Your Body" @ Bandcamp

Toronto psych-pop act ZONES returns later this month with Recursion, a new four-song EP pairing thumping disco grooves with some far-out echo-washed guitar work. The set lands on October 23 from San Francisco's Several Sounds Resource Centre. News of the tape, which follows 2018's The State of Light LP, arrived alongside the space-funk single "Mothlight." In a statement to Exclaim, ZONES mastermind Derek McKeon commented on the trippy analog video that accompanied the track:

"Images are reflected into oceans of magnetic molten magma and purple planetary plasma. Inspired by the effects from late '60s video art like Scott Bartlett's OffOn and the animations of Norman McLaren, I built a rig that would reflect and warp anything we put in front of it like water. Video footage was manipulated with vintage analog video gear and fluorescent feedback systems to achieve an electric pathway of purple lightning to the Mothlight magnetosphere."

Watch: ZONES - "Mothlight" @ YouTube

Following the reveal of "Justice" earlier in the month, beloved Ontario singer/songwriter Jennifer Castle recently shared the title track to "Monarch Season." You can stream it online now. Castle reflected on the song in a statement:

"I remember writing 'Monarch Season' last year this time. The monarchs were out in the sky, on the trees and in the meadows. Of course they are so inspiring. And yet the words I remember resonating with me the most are 'I can't help myself from flying away with them.' Something about that line felt so self-compassionate, the medicine of it worked first on me, and the rest came fast and easy. It gave me the permission to be the type of person that, at 43, still gets profoundly overwhelmed by nature and her cycles, and needs to stop what I'm doing to suddenly write a song about butterflies. Are you like that? Me too."

Monarch Season follows up on 2018's Angels Of Death, with the artist recording entirely unaccompanied at her Port Stanley home. Castle worked with longtime co-producer Jeff McMurrich on the album, which incorporates field recordings of insects, waterfowl, and the waves on Lake Erie into the audio. Early editions of the LP, due from Idée Fixe Records and Paradise of Bachelors, include a songbook with photographs from the recording sessions and sheet music for each song. The record arrives on October 16.

Listen: Jennifer Castle - "Monarch Season" @ Bandcamp

The curiously playful and upbeat new LP from Toronto's Teenanger is out now. Good Time arrived last week alongside a new video showcasing the title track. That clip amusingly takes the band out of the spotlight and puts Hamilton's Randy Gagne in a staring role. You'll likely recognize Gagne as the aggressively weird "existential disco" one-man-band known as Man Made Hill, and he appears in full makeup here.

Good Time is Teenanger's sixth full-length and arrived via the band's longtime home of Telephone Explosion. The group recorded at Studio Z in Toronto with the celebrated post-rock artist Sandro Perri producing. Together for more than a decade, Teenanger still boasts their original lineup of drummer Steve Sidoli, bassist Melissa Bell, guitarist Jon Schouten, and vocalist Chris Swimmings.

Watch: Teenanger - "Good Time" @ YouTube

Dartmouth rockers Designosaur have a new video online that features a live-off-the-floor cover of the Attack In Black classic "Hunger Of The Young." The trio recorded their rendition of the Marriage track for Beneath The Bridges, their recent split cassette release with Halifax singer/songwriter Matty Grace.

Designosaur features bassist/vocalist Rebecca Dalley, guitarist/vocalist AJ Boutilier, and drummer Sean Parsons. Prior to Beneath The Bridges, the band last released the Drive EP in 2019.

Watch: Designosaur - "Hunger Of The Young" @ Bandcamp

Speaking of Matty Grace, the Halifax folk-punker recently released a (very) low-fi split EP with the mysterious and ramshackle Garbage Disposal Unit. Each act contributes four new songs to the project, collectively titled Ambitious Failures. You can find it on Bandcamp now.

Grace recently released the Frayed EP, one in a prolific string of digital releases tracked throughout the COVID lockdown. This year also brought us Rumination Year, a six-song album produced by Surrender's Dave Williams. That set arrived just a few weeks after the above-mentioned Beneath The Bridges split. In the early months of isolation, Grace released two additional EPs as the punk outfit Modern Cynics. In normal times, Grace fronts the punk band Future Girls.

Listen: Matty Grace / The Garbage Disposal Unit - Ambitious Failures @ Bandcamp

Denholm Whale, Toronto concert promoter and founding member of the provocative industrial/electronic act Odonis Odonis, has a new pair of songs online in his solo guise Scratch. The artist contributed a searing cover of Fang's 1989 classic "The Money Will Roll Right In" for the inaugural issue of the Toronto-area digital zine Ultra Mag, along with the new original "Cold Day."

Scratch last released the Something To Do EP in June through the Sepsis Record Club. Odonis Odonis put out the Felte EP Reaction in 2019, preceded by the full-length No Pop back in 2017.

Listen: Scratch - "The Money Will Roll Right In" @ Bandcamp

We're just a week out from the arrival of the self-titled third LP from Montreal emo-revivalists Gulfer. The band recently shared another single and accompanying video, featuring the track "Nature Kids." Vocalist/guitarist Vincent Ford commented:

"The video takes its inspiration from old skate movies like Shorty's Fulfill The Dream and features skaters from a local brand called Blacklisted. We wanted to replicate the feel-good vibes in those late '90s skate videos and capture that 'endless summer' feeling: hanging out with your buds and wishing the summer would never end. Joey's lyrics capture that feeling, and we feel like the video does, too!"

Look for the 13-song full-length on October 16 from Royal Mountain and Topshelf Records. The new album follows their 2018 LP Dog Bless. Gulfer features guitarist/vocalists Vincent Ford and Joe Therriault, bassist David Mitchell, and drummer Julien Daoust.

Watch: Gulfer - "Nature Kids" @ YouTube

Toronto's wry chatterbox punk unit Bike Thiefs recently premiered a video for their single "You're Allowed Your Feelings" over at Punknews.org. It's the first preview of their upcoming Stomp Records debut Leaking, due October 30. The band commented on the track:

"It's about how our lives can be like a journey through a desolate urban landscape populated with failure, compromise, and the occasional beer. The song is heavily inspired by the things we all agree on - racket, sweat, and our outlandish sense of humour."

The song's one of 10 to appear on the new full-length.

Bike Thiefs features bassist Kris Pandierada, drummer Andrew Fasken, and guitarist/vocalist Marko Woloshyn. The band recorded with Beliefs' Josh Korody (Dirty Nil, Weaves, Dilly Dally) at Candle Recordings in Toronto. The new set follows their Lean Into It EP from 2017.

Watch: Bike Thiefs - "You're Allowed Your Feelings" @ YouTube

I'm certainly not alone in missing live music, and when I find my mind drifting back to better days, the band blowing out my hearing in some dingy bar looks a lot like Montreal's PRIORS. While it'll be a while before we can get back to that, the garage punk act just gave us the next best thing by sharing a full live set as part of this year's Lawnya Vawnya event. The band took part in the pandemic-edition of the Newfoundland music and arts festival earlier this month. You can check the video out on YouTube now.

PRIORS last released the New Pleasure LP and Call For You EP in 2018 on Slovenly. During the summer lockdown, vocalist Chance Hutchison and his partner Jackie Blenkarn (of the Pale Lips) released a handful of new songs as Chance & Jackie. A third PRIORS LP was in the works before the pandemic took hold. Expect it soon.

Watch: PRIORS at Lawnya Vawnya @ YouTube

I admittingly know very little about the scrappy Charlottetown three-piece Supermegatonne. The trio put out an extremely low-fi set of punk songs last month titled SUPERMEGAFUN!. It's messy and haphazard, but given PEI's 2020 winning streak, it behooves us all to keep a close eye on everything that the community's churning out.

Listen: Supermegatonne - SUPERMEGAFUN! @ Bandcamp

Calgarian rock duo Miesha & The Spanks has another new single online dubbed "Wanna Feel Good." It's the second preview of the band's upcoming EP, due in March of next year. The band commented:

"This song was a last minute add-on while tracking our next release with Leeroy Stagger. It was just before what would be our last session in his hand-built studio, the Rebeltone Rach, before tearing it down and moving West. Deadlines were closing in and time was running out.

Everything pent-up rose to the surface - 'Pressure's building! Pressure's building!' - something brand new I wasn't planning on writing. 'Wanna Feel Good' is about that pressure and the vices and rituals used to relieve it, to make it through to fight another day. To all of our surprise, this song is a banger. It's a tiny bit psych, a little 90s grunge, some scrappy punk, all rock, and it slaps."

Miesha & The Spanks features Miesha Louie on guitar and vocals with Sean Hamilton on drums. The band recorded this, and the previously shared "Unstoppable," in Lethbridge, AB. The new material follows the group's 2019 single "The Girls Are O.K." and the 2018 full-length Girls Girls Girls.

Listen: Meisha & The Spanks - "Wanna Feel Good" @ SoundCloud

I'm sure that Cancon alt-rock vets Sloan fall decidedly outside of whatever unsaid criteria I use to pick artists to cover in this newsletter. They don't need me. Still, I can't deny that their singles have been on constant rotation in our house throughout the pandemic - nostalgia for a more innocent age, I suppose. Anyways, Sloan's in this week. Deal with it.

The long-running power-pop group recently released their first new music since 2018's 12 with the single "Silence Trumps Lies." It's unknown if the track's destined for the group's next LP, which is said to be in pre-production now. Frontman Chris Murphy commented on the song, well aware of the obvious double meaning in the title:

"I wanted to write a song about the importance of listening - whether to experts or the disenfranchised. It's a song about people who won't listen and won't shut up, who are vain and can't handle criticism, who talk about things for which they aren't qualified and make promises they can't keep."

Listen: Sloan - "Silence Trumps Lies" @ Bandcamp

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